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Italy our danger game says Wallaby Barnes
Russell Jackson
16:18 AEST Fri Nov 23 2012

Italy is the danger game of the Wallabies' European tour and fullback Berrick Barnes says there's no point shying away from the fact.

The world No.11 ranked Italians will have everything to gain when they take on the Wallabies in Florence on Saturday (Sunday AEDT).

The Australians, though, will be keen to prevent the locals joining a list of lesser rugby teams to knock them off during coach Robbie Deans's reign which began in 2008.

The most embarrassing of which were two losses to Scotland, one in June this year and the other in 2009, while Samoa steamrolled the Australians 32-22 in Sydney last year.

The most recent loss to the Scots, a 9-6 defeat at Newcastle in June, came three months after the Italians downed Scotland 13-6 in the Six Nations.

"It is the danger game. There's no hiding from it either," Barnes said.

Italy lost 42-10 to the All Blacks last Saturday in Rome but the hosts held their own against the world champions, who scored three late tries.

"These guys are a good side and they showed that last week. It was 23-10 with 13 (minutes) to go and not a lot of holes opened up prior to that."

Nothing short of an emphatic victory would keep Deans's critics at bay while a loss would mean it's open slather on the coach as it was after the Wallabies' humiliating 33-6 to France in Paris in week one of the tour.

The Wallabies bounced back from the Paris defeat to down England 20-14 at Twickenham where the Australians were led by No.8 Wycliff Palu, flanker Michael Hooper and lock Sitaleki Timani, who were ferocious at the breakdown.

"We've prepared as well as can ... it's about having that same mindset we had last week and going out there and doing it all again," Barnes said.

"A big indication of how we'll go is how our set piece goes from the outset. Their game's based around that."

The Italians pushed England in February, going down 19-15 in Rome with the hosts outscoring the visitors two tries to one.

Australia have never lost to Italy in 14 Tests dating back to 1983 but that means nothing to Barnes.

The last time was at last year's Rugby World Cup with Australia winning 32-6 while the Wallabies prevailed 32-14 in the previous clash in Florence in 2010.

"I've played them four or five times and they're always tough grinds. You never get away with an easy game against these blokes ... no way in the world," he said.

"You find if you don't get your set piece right, it makes for a very hard game. The ball gets scrappy, they kick penalties and keep themselves in games."

Italy coach, Frenchman Jacques Brunel, has made two changes.

Robert Barbieri returns at No.7 while Quintin Geldenhuys comes back to the second row.

"The return of Barbieri... and Geldenhuys in the second row is designed to add more power to the team from the start," Brunel said.

The Italians went into the All Blacks clash after defeating Tonga 28-23 and have showed glimpses of the expansive rugby their French coach wants them to play.

Brunel replaced South African Nick Mallett as coach of Italy last year.

Australia made four changes with Drew Mitchell replacing Digby Ioane while Brett Sheehan celebrates his first Test start six years after his debut.

Scott Higginbotham returns from a two-game suspension to reclaim his No.6 spot from Dave Dennis while Stephen Moore has ousted Tatafu Polota-Nau to start at hooker.